Psychological Development Across the Lifespan

Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Stages

What happens during the Initiative vs. Guilt stage?

The next stage, Initiative vs. Guilt, parallels Freud’s phallic stage and takes the Oedipal complex into account. This stage takes place during the pre-school years, from about age three to age six. At this stage, the child has developed the capacity for initiative, to set goals and intentionally pursue them. However, the child also becomes aware that not all goals are socially acceptable, marking the beginning of moral development. The child’s sense of right and wrong depends on a simplistic and black-and-white understanding of parental rules and prohibitions. Depending on parental reactions to this stage, the child will develop confidence in his or her own initiative, or become overwhelmed and stifled by guilt.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Psychology Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App